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1st Vermont Cavalry


Charles H. Blinn

JULY 18th, 1863
DEAR FREE PRESS: --- While the thousands and one journals at the North are teaming with the news of great victories, and while Divisions, Brigades, and Regiments are receiving encomiums from millions of loyal hearts, I think it but a duty to lay before your many readers a short account of the part performed by the 1st Vermont Cavalry; a part I am happy to say of which we as a regiment are proud, and of which the people of Vermont may also boast.
Since the 20th day of June, we have been in the saddle over half the time; and such marching and fighting as hads been done by our Division is unparallel in the history of this rebellion.
Our march from Fairfax to Frederick city was indeed a pleasant one, and was attended with no accident of any kind. We arrived at the latter place at mid-night the 27th of June. On the 28th we had a general " changing of hands". Gen. Stahl was relieved of his command, as was also Col. Deforest, who commanded our Brigade. The dashing Gen. Kilpatrick ( formerly) Col. Of the 2d N.Y. Cavalry assumed command of our brigade. The nine regiments composing the Division, was consolidated into two brigades, ours being the first.
On the morning of the 29th, under our new commanders, we moved on toward Pennsylvania, and at night bivouacked near the village of Littletown, three miles over the line. Here we met with a very pleasant reception, by some fifty young ladies who had assembled at the Union Hotel. As we passed through the streets their sweet voices mingled with the coarser ones of the soldiers in singing " The Star Spangled Banner", and " Red White and Blue" &c.
At early dawn on the 30th we moved on to Hanover. Here the kind ladies had assembled at the markets on the centre of town and with everything nice to eat were cheering us on. The Misses had come out with boquets of nice flowers, and the merchants with boxes of cigars &c. All these were being distributed freely, and all were enjoying themselves heartily, when the sound of a cannon was heard in the upper part of town. The frightened young ladies inquired and were assured by the soldiers that undoubtedly the citizens were firing a salute in honor of our arrival. It was heard again, and again, and this time a skedaddle from the rear of the cowardly rear guard assured us that Messsrs. Stuart and Co. were attacking our rear. The 18th Pennsylvania, a new regiment never before under fire, commenced a grand move toward the front and the rebels followed on. Lucky the other regiments of the brigade had been drawn up in line, and the 1st Vt., and 5th N.Y., cavalry were soon face to face with the hordes of Gen Stewart. The charge was led by Gen. Farnsworth in person. The rebels after exchanging a few shots broke and ran, and over fifty prisoners were brought in. Among them was Lieut. Colonel Payne, 4th Va. Cav.,two captains, and two lieutenants of the 2d N.C. Cavalry, also a stand of colors belonging to the latter regiment. Skirmishing continued during the entire day, and just at sunset the rebels fell back, when the town was re-occupied by our troops. Our loss during the day was 11 killed and 38 wounded; that of the enemy 26 killed and 59 wounded. Our ambulances being in the rear of the brigade, nine of them were captured, most of them containing the sick and wounded of the brigade.
Our supply train having failed to come up during the day, we were without rations, but the kind and ever-to-be- remembered ladies of Hanover cooked all night, and at day-break we were well fed.
On the 2d inst we proceeded to Gettysburg, where the battle had commenced, and were assigned a position on the left of our line. All day on the 3d was this position maintained against a division of rebel infantry. Toward evening Gen Pleasanton, learning that the rebels were slowly advancing, sent an order to Gen Kilpatrick for a brigade of his division, to charge their line. Gen Farnsworth , with the 1st Va., 1st Vt., and a squadron of the 5th N.Y., made the charge. Not satisfied with driving back the enemy's skirmishers, the brave General, amid the roar of artillery and the rattle of musketry, led on his men until, nearing a stone wall, the 1st Georgia and 1st Texas regiments sprung upon them; the storm of lead poured into the ranks of our cavalry was too much for them, and with about one hundred prisoners they fell back behind the battery. Our loss was very severe; the 1st Va. Alone lost six officers. The brave Gen. Farnsworth was killed in the charge. A truer man never drew the sword. No show, nor style, he was truly a model General; and in him we loose a man who was but a few days with us, yet we had learned to respect and love him.
On the 4th inst, having received rations for three days we started early in the p.m., on a raid around the rebel army. Early in the morning while crossing the mountain, Stewart's wagon train was discovered, and Gen. Kilpatrick determined to destroy it, which he did in short order, capturing the guard, over two hundred prisoners, including Gen. Jones. The train was over one and a half miles long, and was loaded with plunder of every description.
Coming in the direction of Hagerstown on the 7th inst, a large body of infantry was encountered. Kilpatrick fought them for some hours and then fell back. It was this engagement that the brave Capt. Woodward, ( Co. M.) fell. He was buried by the enemy but his body has since been recovered, and Chaplain Woodward ( his father) left for home with it a few days since.

Submitted by Deanna French


Blinn, Charles Henry, of San Francisco, Cal., son of Chauncy and Edatha (Harrington) Blinn, was born in Burlington, Jan. 27, 1843.
Educated in the schools of his native place, he was prepared for the University of Vermont, when he entered the army.
He enlisted, August 21, 1861, in the famous 1st Vt. Cavalry, serving three years and four months. He was attached to Sheridan's Cavalry Corps; participated in the battles of Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Wilderness, Winchester, Cedar Creek, and twenty-six skirmishes. He was wounded and taken prisoner at Middletown, Va., May 25, 1862, in a cavalry charge led by General Banks; his horse was killed by a cannon ball from a battery stationed within three hundred yards, fell with sixteen others and was ridden over by a company of the 1st Maine Cavalry; was in prison at Lynchburg and Belle Island, Va., from May 25 to Sept. 17. His regiment has the honor of having captured at Cedar Creek forty-two cannon, the largest number taken by any regiment during the war. He was honorably discharged at Burlington, Nov. 19, 1864.
After the war he was two years chief clerk at the Welden House, Saint Albans. He went to California in 1868, and for six years was with the Wells-Fargo Express Co. In 1875 he became an editorial writer of the "Alta California." In 1878 he was appointed chief permit clerk in the San Francisco Custom House, which position he still fills.
The positions he has occupied in the Grand Army of the Republic are too many for our space; suffice it to say, he is now quartermaster and secretary of Veteran Guard, G.A.R., George H. Thomas Post, etc. For five years he has been secretary of the Pacific Coast Association, "Native Sons of Vermont." He is a regular attendant and contributor to Simpson Memorial Methodist Church.
He was married, Dec. 15, 1870, to Nellie, daughter of Albert and Lucy Holbrook, of Salem, N. H. She is (1894) the leading elocutionist of the Pacific Coast. Mrs. Blinn is a powerful political speaker, and took the stump for Hayes, Garfield, Blaine, and Harrison. Their union was blessed with a son: Holbrook, born in 1872, graduated at Boy's high school, spent two years in college, and is now a rising young actor.

Source: Jacob G. Ullery, compiler, Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of Vermonters and Sons of Vermont, (Transcript Publishing Company, Brattleboro, VT, 1894), Part III, p. 21.

Charles Henry Blinn, adjuster of duties in the custom house of San Francisco, to which position he was appointed on the 1st of April, 1902, is a native of the Green Mountain state, his birth having occurred in Burlington, Vermont, on the 27th of January, 1843. He belonged to a family of eight children, being the third in order of birth among five sons and three daughters whose parents were Chauncey and Editha M. (Harrington) Blinn. In the paternal line he is descended from French Huguenot ancestors who settled in Shelburne, Vermont, in the latter part of the seventeenth century. Since that time representatives of the name have been found in various portions of New England, and several were identified with the patriotic army in the war of the Revolution, while Chauncey Blinn served his country as a soldier of the war of 1812. He was a master wheelwright by occupation, and followed that pursuit for a number of years.
Charles Henry Blinn acquired his education in the public schools of his native city and later benefited by instruction received in the academy of Burlington, Vermont, where he pursued a preparatory course, fitting him for entrance in the state university. He was thus a student at the time of the inauguration of the Civil war in 1861. His interest centered in his country and its welfare, and prompted by a spirit of patriotism he and his two brothers enlisted in the First Regiment of Vermont Cavalry under Colonel L. B. Platt. This regiment served in all the battles of the Potomac and was in the great cavalry charge under General Farnsworth, of General Kilpatrick's division, in the sanguinary conflict at Gettysburg. Mr. Blinn afterward served under Generals Custer and Sheridan. In 1864 he was in the Shenandoah Valley with Sheridan's army and with the Army of the Potomac in General Grant's campaign. After the expiration of his three years' term of service, following the battle of Cedar Creek, he was mustered out on the 19th of November, 1864.
After the war he entered the office of the Central Pacific Railroad Company at Saint Albans, Vermont, as a clerk, and later accepted the position of chief clerk at the Weldon House at Saint Albans, a famous summer hotel. Subsequently he occupied a similar position in the Ottawa Hotel at Montreal, Canada, and the year 1868 witnessed his arrival on the Pacific coast. He has since been a resident of California and is thoroughly in sympathy with the interests of the great west, co-operating in public measures for general advancement and improvement. On his arrival in this state he accepted a position with the Wells Fargo and Company's Express, with which he continued until 1874, when he resigned in order to accept a position as one of the writers on the Daily Alta, a newspaper of San Francisco, with which he was connected until 1878, when he accepted a position in the custom house at San Francisco as chief permit clerk. He acted in that capacity until the 1st of April, 1902, when he was promoted to adjuster of duties in which capacity he is now serving.
In 1880 Mr. Blinn was united in marriage to Miss Nellie Holbrook, a native of New Hampshire, a daughter of Hon. Albert Holbrook. At the time of her marriage she was a distinguished actress and was well known on the stage under her maiden name, being leading lady with W. E. Sheridan and also playing in the old California theater with Lawrence Barrett and John McCullough. To Mr. and Mrs. Blinn has been born one son, who has gained distinction by reason of his histrionic talent on the London stage.
Mr. Blinn belongs to George H. Thomas Post, G.A.R., and has been its quartermaster for the past twenty-one years. He is financial secretary and treasurer of San Francisco Council No. 540, National Union, in which capacity he served for fourteen years. He is now a director of the Veterans Home Association, having served for ten years, being appointed three times by the successive governors Budd, Gage and Pardee. He is also chairman of the supplies committee for the association. His political allegiance is given to the Republican party, and a close study of the questions and issues of the day has enabled him to support his political preferences by intelligent argument. In matters of citizenship he is progressive and patriotic, giving to his country in days of peace the same loyal devotion that he manifested when on southern battlefields he followed the starry banner of the nation.
Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II; The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905 Edited by Leigh H. Irvine.